Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Sexual Violence
Remember, it is never the victim’s fault. These tips are offered in the hope that recognizing patterns can help everyone to reduce their risk.
Decisive action early in an encounter may be the key to avoiding rape. An individual who can combine assertiveness and self-defense skills, who is self-confident and definite in her/his interactions with others, is less likely to become a victim of rape.
If the individual can assertively defend his/her rights initially, he/she has a better chance of avoiding being raped than does a person who resorts to techniques such as pleading or trying to talk the perpetrator out of it.
What can you do if you find yourself in an uncomfortable sexual situation?
- Make your limits known before things go too far.
- Give clear messages. Say “yes” when you mean yes and “no” when you mean no. Leave no room for misinterpretation. Tell a sexual aggressor “NO” clearly and loudly, like you mean it.
- Try to remove yourself from the physical presence of a sexual aggressor.
- Approach someone nearby and ask for help. Yell.
- Know your limits when it comes to using alcohol. Be responsible for your alcohol intake/drug use and realize that alcohol/drugs lower you sexual inhibitions and may make you more vulnerable to someone who views a drunk or high person as a sexual opportunity.
- Watch out for your friends and ask that they watch out for you. A real friend will get in your face if you are about to make a mistake. Respect them if they do.
- Be aware of any unintentional messages you may be sending that conflict with what you are saying. Notice your tone of voice, gestures and eye contact.
- Be forceful and firm when necessary. Don’t be concerned with being polite. Your passivity may be interpreted as permission or approval for this behavior.
- Do not give into to something you do not want just to avoid unpleasantness. Do not allow “politeness” to trap you in a dangerous situation. This is not the time to be concerned about hurt feelings.
- Trust your feelings or instincts. If a situation does not feel comfortable to you or you feel anxious about the way your date is acting, you need to respond. Leave immediately if necessary.
How can I lower my risk of sexual assault?
There are things you can do to reduce your chances of being sexually assaulted. Follow these tips from the National Crime Prevention Council.
- Be aware of your surroundings — who’s out there and what’s going on.
- Walk with confidence. The more confident you look, the stronger you appear.
- Know your limits when it comes to using alcohol.
- Be assertive — don’t let anyone violate your space.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, leave.
- Don’t prop open self-locking doors.
- Lock your door and your windows, even if you leave for just a few minutes.
- Watch your keys. Don’t lend them. Don’t leave them. Don’t lose them. And don’t put your name and address on the key ring.
- Watch out for unwanted visitors. Know who’s on the other side of the door before you open it.
- Be wary of isolated spots, like underground garages, offices after business hours, and apartment laundry rooms.
- Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route. Stay in well-traveled, well-lit areas.
- Have your key ready to use before you reach the door — home, car or work.
- Park in well-lit areas and lock the car, even if you’ll only be gone a few minutes.
- Drive on well-traveled streets, with doors and windows locked.
- Never hitchhike or pick up a hitchhiker.
- Keep your car in good shape with plenty of gas in the tank.
- In case of car trouble, call for help on your cellular phone. If you don’t have a phone, put the hood up, lock the doors, and put a banner in the rear mirror that says, “Help. Call police.”